Strictly Come Dancing 2021 launch LIVE: Shirley Ballas returns TONIGHT as Dan Walker, Till Ramsay & celebs partner-up

STRICTLY Come Dancing's new celebrity contestants will be paired with their professional partners during the launch show on TONIGHT.

The 15 celebrities, who include Olympian Adam Peaty, rugby star Ugo Monye and TV presenter Judi Love, will make their debut on the dancefloor during a group number in tonight's launch show at 7.45pm.

Meanwhile, Dan Walker revealed he was taken to A&E after bumping his head.

The TV presenter, 44, has been training for the BBC show ahead of tonight's launch show, and said he hit his head on a "big glass window" on Thursday and was taken to hospital a day later after "feeling a little wobbly".

Also competing will be EastEnders actress Nina Wadia, TV presenter AJ Odudu, Dragons' Den investor Sara Davies, McFly star Tom Fletcher, Coronation Street actress Katie McGlynn, TV presenter Tilly Ramsay, comedian Robert Webb, CBBC host Rhys Stephenson and actor Greg Wise.

EastEnders actress Rose Ayling-Ellis will be the first deaf contestant to appear in the series.

Follow our Strictly Come Dancing live blog for all the latest updates…

  • Joseph Gamp

    STRICTLY'S JOHN WHAITE: SAME-SEX ROLE MODELS WILL GIVE KIDS HOPE FOR THE FUTURE

    John Whaite has said he hopes having same-sex role models on Strictly Come Dancing will give children watching the show "a little bit of hope for the future".

    The former Great British Bake Off winner follows in the footsteps of boxer Nicola Adams, who last year danced in the first same-sex partnership with professional Katya Jones.

    The 32-year-old said the reaction to him being in the first all-male partnership on the dancing competition has been "so positive" and hopes it will "break down that notion of toxic masculinity".

    He said: "The reaction has been so positive.

    "Because I'm doing the first all-male partnership, I genuinely did think that I was going to receive a fair bit of hate because you do as a gay man, you get a lot of hate.

  • Joseph Gamp

    ROSE AYLING-ELLIS ATTRACTS STRONG SUPPORT FOR STRICTLY

    Rose Ayling-Ellis has attracted strong support with bookmaker Coral ahead of the launch of Strictly Come Dancing tomorrow evening. The actress is the 5-1 joint-favourite with the firm for the 2021 series.

    Just over 70% of the outright bets with Coral on the series this year has been for the Eastenders actress.

    Tom Fletcher also sits at the top of the betting at 5-1, Rhys Syephenson is 7-1, while Robert Webb is 8-1.

    “Rose Ayling-Ellis has been one of the most popular contestants we have seen in our betting ahead of the launch of a series. Many punters believe she is going to go all the way,” said Coral’s John Hill.

  • Joseph Gamp

    HOW MUCH DOES SHIRLEY BALLAS GET PAID FOR BEING A STRICTLY JUDGE?

    Head judge Shirley began on £180k when she joined the show in 2017.

    Since then she has negotiated a pay rise, bringing her Strictly salary up to £500,000 per series.

    She's also earning money from doing Panto each year.

    Her income also comes from teaching at a dance school in Streatham, South London.

  • Joseph Gamp

    HOW MUCH DOES OTI MABUSE EARN THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA?

    Two-time ballroom champion Oti Mabuse, 31, is also winning when it comes to social media earnings.

    Thanks to her 589,000 followers, the South African dancer is able to ask more than £2,000 per sponsored post.

    She joined Strictly back in 2015 and has gone from strength to strength, winning last year with comedian Bill Bailey.

    Away from dancing, Oti has worked with Sketchers, Premier Protein and Green Chef UK to create Instagram ads for them. When not using her social media to top up her earnings, she makes extra cash on tours and through interviews, radio and TV appearances.

    She was a dance captain on The Greatest Dancer and has done stints on BBC's Morning Live and Channel 4's Steph's Packed Lunch.

  • Joseph Gamp

    MORE COUPLES FOILED?

    Dragon' Den star Sara Davis was seen hugging professional ballroom dancer Aljaz Skorjanec between rehearsals on Friday afternoon.

    While eagle-eyed viewers of the ballroom show were certain McFly front man Tom Fletcher had given away his partner in a snap of her FEET.

    Viewers of the BBC One dancing show are sure that the pair of feet in the photo next to the pop band frontman belong to Amy Dowden.

    While they also think that BBC Breakfast star Dan may have already foiled who his partner is due to the length of her slender legs.

    The mystery dancer opted for blue leggings and woolly leg warmers and matching jazz shoes – pointing her toe towards the camera.

  • Joseph Gamp

    STRICTLY COME DANCING STAR AJ ODUDU REVEALS NASTY FOOT INJURY JUST DAYS BEFORE SHOW DEBUT

    STRICTLY Come Dancing star AJ Odudu has revealed her nasty foot injury just days before making her dancing debut.

    The TV presenter – who will appear for the first time on the BBC ballroom competition this weekend – took to Instagram to reveal her painful toes.

    AJ, 33, who is best known for co-presenting Channel 5 show Big Brother's Bit on the Side, told fans she was wearing plasters on her feet already.

    Videoing herself in the mirror as she took to her first rehearsal, the TV star joked that her toes felt like they are "broken" thanks to her high heels.

    "Hello! Day one in the dance studio darlings – and I've got a plaster on my feet already," she could be heard saying as she filmed her toes. I'm in agony! But it's really fun," enthusiastic AJ added, before smiling and giving a thumbs up to the camera.

    The TV star joked that her toes felt "broken"Credit: Instagram/@ajodudu
  • Joseph Gamp

    WHAT IS THE SO CALLED 'STRICTLY CURSE'?

    The "curse" is a phenomenon that hits celebrities and their dance partners during their time on Strictly Come Dancing.

    Due to the harsh schedules, sexy dance moves and close quarters with their partners, their off-screen romances sometimes suffer as a result.

    Strictly became regarded as "cursed" after a series of very public break-ups from show participants – and ever since, more and more fan favourites have succumbed.

    Over the course of 18 series of the BBC favourite, nearly a dozen couples have split up thanks to their time on the show.

  • Joseph Gamp

    HOW MUCH DOES GORKA MARQUEZ MAKE THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS?

    Spanish dancer Gorka, 31, is the second highest earner from social media, with his 652,000 fan base enabling him to charge over £2,000 per post.

    He is engaged to former Strictly contestant Gemma Atkinson, after the couple met on the show, and they share a little girl, Mia, two.

    Gorka has cashed in thanks to partnerships with brands like Hartley's 10 Cal Jelly, Nococo and Tropicana.

    Outside of dancing he is also a certified personal trainer and earns extra dosh through interviews, tours and TV appearances.

  • Joseph Gamp

    STRICTLY COME DANCING STARS PREPARE TO BE PAIRED UP DURING LAUNCH

    Strictly Come Dancing’s latest celebrities will be paired with their professional partners during the launch show on Saturday night.

    The 15 celebrities, who include Olympian Adam Peaty, rugby star Ugo Monye and TV presenter Judi Love, will make their debut on the dancefloor during a group number.

    Also competing will be EastEnders actress Nina Wadia, TV presenter AJ Odudu, Dragons’ Den investor Sara Davies, McFly star Tom Fletcher, Coronation Street actress Katie McGlynn, BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker, TV presenter Tilly Ramsay, comedian Robert Webb, CBBC host Rhys Stephenson and actor Greg Wise.

    EastEnders actress Rose Ayling-Ellis will be the first deaf contestant to appear in the series.

    Former Bake Off winner John Whaite will take to the dancefloor as half of an all-male pairing, in another first for Strictly.

    The professionals include returning fan favourites such as Oti Mabuse, Giovanni Pernice, Gorka Marquez and Katya Jones.

  • Joseph Gamp

    STRICTLY'S JOHN WHAITE AND JOHANNES RADEBE 'GIVE AWAY THEY'RE PARTNERS' THANKS TO TELL-TALE DANCE STUDIO PIC

    STRICTLY Come Dancing star John Whaite may have given away his partner is Johannes Radebe in a tell-tale studio snap.

    The Great British Bake Off star – who will take part in a same-sex couple on the upcoming BBC One competition – may have ruined the partner secret.

    While producers have been going to great length to keep the celebrities partnerships under wraps, one looks to have been foiled already.

    John, 32, took to Instagram to write a gushing tribute to his soon-to-be revealed dance partner as he leaned against the studio wall.

    Posing in tiny dance shorts and a white top, the baker looked comfortable in the space – which consisted of a stone wall and black-railing clad windows.

    John wrote: "This whole strictly journey is eye-opening: learning to believe in yourself; learning to open up to and understand and trust a new partner; learning to be patient and kind with each other.

    "There’s a huge thing missing from this photo – my dance partner. He’s the one holding us together and carrying me through this unknown territory."

    John posed in the studio as he gushed over his partnerCredit: INSTAGRAM
    Johannes looked to be in the same studio as he danced for fansCredit: INSTAGRAM

     

  • Joseph Gamp

    STRICTLY COME DANCING 2021 RICH LIST REVEALED

    LIFTING the Glitterball trophy is every Strictly Come Dancing professional's dream, but failing to finish at the top of the leader board doesn't mean they can't cash in.

    As fans gear up for the BBC One show's return this weekend, we've taken a look at how much the dancers – and the judges – can pocket from their fame.

    Read more here.

  • Joseph Gamp

    WHEN DOES STRICTLY COME DANCING 2021 START?

    Strictly Come Dancing 2021 starts on Saturday, September 18, 2021.

    The 19th series will kick off at 7:45pm on BBC One.

    The launch show will involve celebrities in the likes of Ugo Monye, Tom Fletcher, Katie McGlynn and Tilly Ramsay, among others, being paired up with their professional dancer.

    The live shows are then set to begin on Saturday, September 25.

    Dan Walker originally broke the news by mistake on BBC Breakfast on Thursday August 2 – but this was also confirmed by the BBC themselves a day later, August 3.

  • Joseph Gamp

    GIOVANNI HAS DATED A NUMBER OF STRICTLY CONTESTANTS OVER THE YEARS

    Giovanni has dated a number of people from Strictly over the years.

    In 2015 he got together with Coronation Street's Georgia May Foote, then three years he later started dating Ashley Roberts.

    He was also linked to his partner Good Morning Britain presenter Ranvir Singh last year.

  • Joseph Gamp

    MAUARA HIGGINS ASKS BOYFRIEND GIOVANNI TO BE 'RESPECTFUL' DURING SHOW

    Giovanni's girlfriend Maura Higgins has has "warned" him to be "respectful" ahead of the new series.

    The Love Island star, 30, is reportedly concerned about what obstacles the upcoming season of the BBC dance competition could bring to their new relationship.

    It has already been revealed that the Irish beauty is "dreading" who her beau will be paired with this year. To make matters worse it was reported that bosses were "desperate" to put the Italian hunk with Corrie star Katie – but this could risk upsetting Maura as they were romantically linked five years ago.

    The former grid girl reportedly "knows how flirty Giovanni can be", but doesn't want this to be the reason rumours start during his time on the show.

    “He’s told her getting close and dancing intimately is part and parcel of the show. But she’s told him he just needs to be respectful to her," a source told new! magazine.

    "Dancing is one thing, but he needs to be aware of his behaviour and make sure people know she’s his girlfriend.”

  • Joseph Gamp

    WHO WON THE FIRST EVER SERIES OF STRICTLY COME DANCING?

    Strictly Come Dancing launched its first ever series in May 2004 and was won by news anchor Natasha Kaplinsky.

    The show was originally hosted by the late Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly.

    After Brucie quit the show in 2014, Tess was joined by Claudia Winkleman, who she has been presenting the show with ever since.

  • Joseph Gamp

    STRICTLY'S GIOVANNI PERNICE SHARES VIDEO OF CELEBRITY PARTNER'S BATTERED FEET

    STRICTLY fans can't wait to find out who is paired with who on tonight's big launch show.

    One thing we do know though, whoever Giovanni Pernice's celebrity partner is, they have been put through gruelling rehearsals by the pro dancer.

    The hunky star, 31, revealed the battered and bruised feet of his mystery partner.

    Taking to Instagram he shared the sore toes of his star dancer.

    Giovanni – who has been on Strictly since 2015 – wrote across the short clip: "Welcome to Strictly partner".

    Giovanni Pernice has been putting his secret Strictly partner through their pacesCredit: Rex
  • Joseph Gamp

    ROSE AYLING-ELLIS WILL USE HER PARTNER FOR GUIDANCE

    The EastEnders star said she will be able to use her professional partner for guidance to stay in time with the rhythm.

    "I will be focusing on reading my partner's body language plus counting in my head, which will help me with timing," she says. "So for me it's a combination of everything."

    Rose added: "However not all deaf people are the same, every deaf person will have their own unique experience with music.

    "I do love music and I can't wait to be taught how to dance at a professional level for Strictly!"

  • Joseph Gamp

    EASTENDERS' ROSE AYLING-ELLIS REVEALS HOW SHE WILL 'FEEL THE MUSIC'

    STRICTLY Come Dancing star Rose Ayling-Ellis will "feel" the music as she prepares to take to the dancefloor on Saturday night.

    The EastEnders actress is deaf but loves to blast albums in her car and go to music gigs with mates.

    Rose – who plays Mick Carter’s daughter Frankie on the BBC soap – also went to ballet school as a little girl, and said: "They think we hear nothing.

    "But hearing stuff isn’t just about hearing stuff in your ear. It’s also visual, you watch the show, you feel it as well."

    She added to The Guardian: "Nothing is impossible, and I know that a lot of deaf children grow up in society that thinks that it’s not possible [for them to succeed]. But no – you can do it."

    EastEnders actress Rose Ayling-Ellis said she'll 'feel' the music on Saturday night as she takes to the Strictly dancefloorCredit: BBC
  • Joseph Gamp

    STRICTLY'S SHIRLEY BALLAS OPENS UP ON THE DEATH OF HER FATHER

    In April, Shirley Ballas' father Andy died aged 83.

    He had left the family home when she was just two years old — but they grew closer after her brother David took his own life in 2003, aged 44.

    Shirley said: “My father and I weren’t overly close. He’s been a bit sporadic throughout my 61 years shall we say. There were a lot of things when he was gone that were unsaid. It’s all right for his family members to say to me, ‘Oh he loved you’.

    “But at the end of the day I really needed to hear that from him. It’s a little box that will never completely have closure. It is heartbreaking for me, there was a lot that I wished I was able to sit with him one on one.”

    Read our exclusive interview with Shirley here.

  • Joseph Gamp

    SHIRLEY BALLAS PROMISES DAZZLING SEXY NEW OUTFITS

    Shirley has been getting fit so she can slip into the slinky dresses she has worn since she became head judge four years ago.

    But viewers will notice some subtle but serious changes to her wardrobe this year — which she calls “sensual grooming”.

    Shirley explained: “I’m going to wear some short dresses because I rather like my legs. I think my ankles are the best part of my body. I like a plunging neckline too, but I’m not one for having it all hanging out.

    “I like to stay age-appropriate – I don’t like to look mutton dressed as lamb. I’m not lamb any more, but I’ve still got plenty of sauce. Look at Amanda Holden. She looks amazing at 50.

    But I’m 61 and, trust me, those ten or 11 years make a huge difference. But watch this space – maybe I’ll take her lead.”

  • Joseph Gamp

    SHIRLEY BALLAS LIKES A HORLICKS AND A BONK EVERY NIGHT BEFORE BED

    STRICTLY’S head judge Shirley Ballas insists she feels super-sexy in her sixties — and wants nookie and Horlicks every night.

    The 61-year-old, who is dating 49-year-old actor Danny Taylor, promises some hot new outfits for the latest series which kicks off tonight.

    And Shirley says she’s more than happy to have a mug of something hot at bedtime — as long as she gets steamed up too.

    She said: “I’d want Horlicks AND sex. Lots of Horlicks and sex – or a bit of Horlicks and a lot of sex. My Danny just left this morning, we had a marvellous weekend together. There was lots of Horlicks. It was beautiful.

    “It’s still important to me to feel sexy – I think every woman wants to feel that way. Everybody wants to have that sensual appeal and I don’t think you ever lose it. I took my mother out the other day – she’s 84 – and she was chatting up the guy next to her. She was like, ‘I’ve still got it, ya know’.”

    The Strictly Come Dancing's head judge, 61, is dating 49-year-old actor Danny TaylorCredit: PA:Press Association
  • Joseph Gamp

    VIEWERS WILL FIND OUT WHICH DANCERS THE CELEBS ARE PARTNERED WITH TONIGHT

    Viewers will learn which celebrities and dancers have been paired up from 7.45pm tonight.

    Stars Dan Walker and Ugo Monye were spotted at the London studios yesterday.

    Gordon Ramsay’s daughter Tilly arrived moments before new pro dancer Nikita Kuzmin, sparking rumours they are a pair.

    Actor Greg Wise and dancer Karen Hauer headed into the venue two minutes apart.

  • Joseph Gamp

    ONE STRICTLY PRO DANCER ALREADY IN ISOLATION AFTER TESTING POSITIVE FOR COVID

     BBC chiefs are already dealing with a Covid crisis after a pro tested positive earlier this week. They have been rushed into isolation with their celeb pairing likely to get a new partner.

    The source added: “Strictly already has to jump through hoops just to be able to broadcast. The dancers who won’t get vaccinated have been a topic of conversation among cast and crew for weeks — even before the positive test. 

    “There were vocal protests from celebrities that they didn’t want to be paired with them.  It’s a headache for bosses but employers cannot force workers to get jabbed.

    “Their stance has also miffed other pros, some of whom did not want to get jabbed but did so for the good of the show.

    "Throw in one dancer already in isolation, and anxiety is at an all-time high.” 

  • Joseph Gamp

    STRICTLY ROCKED AFTER TWO PRO DANCERS REFUSE TO GET VACCINES

    STRICTLY has been rocked ahead of tonight’s new series after two pro dancers refused to get Covid jabs — leaving some celebrities reluctant to be paired with them.

    The pair are the only professionals out of 18 to not be vaccinated for the latest run of the BBC hit, hosted by Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly.

     It has left Beeb chiefs fearing a spate of show-wrecking Covid cases. A source said: “A proper ­outbreak that takes out half the cast would be curtains for the show.”

    Concerns have also been raised about the return of a live studio audience.

    Hundreds of fans will have front-row seats for Strictly’s star-studded 19th series.

    Strictly has been rocked ahead of tonight’s new series after two pro dancers refused to get Covid jabsCredit: PA

     

  • Joseph Gamp

    STRICTLY FIRST LAUNCHED IN MAY 2004

    Strictly Come Dancing launched its first ever series in May 2004 and was won by news anchor Natasha Kaplinsky.

    The show was originally hosted by the late Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly.

    After Brucie quit the show in 2014, Tess was joined by Claudia Winkleman, who she has been presenting the show with ever since.

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